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Nigel Gatherer's Mandolin Diary



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Saturday August 30th 2003


I spent Saturday at Lochgoilead, where the Goil Fiddles were having a fiddle weekend. Bizarrely, I was there to conduct a couple of mandolin workshops, but they also asked me to host a pub session on Saturday evening.

The Goil Fiddles (or is it Fiddlers?) are an off-shoot of the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop, and they've been doing marvellous things in this remote wee village in the west of Scotland. They've held fiddle classes, and have been bringing quality bands to perform in concert. This weekend was nominally a fund-raiser, but served as a profile-raising exercise just as much, if not more (the fund-raising aspect wasn't made easier by the fact that the Cowal Games, one of the largest social events in the area was on the same day). There were exhibitions, stalls, concerts, sessions, workshops, come-and-try events, arts and crafts, and so on. I thought it excellent, and it just shows what can be done when there is the will of an energetic person or group.

My "Come and Try" session was for people with no experience of mandolin, and was very successful, with seventeen people turning up. I had managed to borrow thirteen mandolins (from a mandolin orchestra), and a couple had brought their own, but some people had to share, but it was fine. We all had a great time, and the sound of sixteen mandolins alternating from the G chord to D was magnificent, and luckily they thought so too!

I had prepared for the workshop, at which I was looking at pentatonic scales. Alas! Not one person turned up. I was quite happy about it, and shortly after a guitarist friend showed up, so we went down to the village hall where we played a mandolin/guitar duet for about an hour amongst the stalls, exhibitions, etc, to the apparent delight of the locals.

The pub session later was great. I was pitching it at learners and local musicians rather than pros, and I think that's why it was successful. I played from just after 8pm until about 12.30am and happily knew almost all the tunes that people suggested.

All in all it was a great day in a beautiful setting with brilliant weather. I was put up in a lovely cottage looking out over a sea loch - heaven.